Big Changes for Alimony in New York

While divorce filings traditionally taper off in December and pick back up in January, December of 2015 can be the best time to officially end things– that is if you live in New York.

Earlier this fall, a new law by the State Legislature was passed and goes into effect towards the end of January. This law establishes an alimony formula, or maintenance payments.

If you're wealthy, listen up. Effective January 25, the income that is used to determine alimony caps out at $175,000, down from $524,000. Additionally, the law sets limits for the how long post-divorce alimony can last, and it ends all payments upon remarriage or death.

While this law may not affect the middleclass much, it will affect many wealthy couples in more ways than one. For wealthy spouses, the changes in the law will result in a smaller payment weight for the breadwinner upon divorce.

Essentially, this new law will favor moneyed spouses. If you're the moneyed spouse, you'll need to stall the divorce filing. On the other hand, if you're the non-moneyed spouse, you'll want to file.

Up until Jan. 25, maintenance awards were made based on a number of details, such as the marriage length, the age and health of the parties, the incomes of each party and of course, each spouse's earning potential.

Ask any New York divorce attorney, they'll say that maintenance awards varied based on county, and even based on case – they were all over the board. Now, this movement will standardize it.

For those individuals considering divorce, this may inspire them to file sooner, said John Slowiaczek, president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Slowiaczek told CNBC that it's not unusual to see a spike in divorce filings after the holidays, especially after January 1st. This year, however, the spike in New York will be impacted by the new legislation, he said.

According to Slowiaczek, there's been a trend toward reducing or removing spousal support nationwide. He said that part of it is impacted by the current culture and the number of two-income households with women who have successful jobs.

To learn more about the changes in New York's spousal support laws, contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, speak with a Nassau County divorce lawyer.